The average daily water intake stands at 0.7 gal. (2.5 liters) for men and 0.5 gal. (2 liters) for women and a greater percentage at between 70% and 80% needs to come from drinks. This intake requirement usually goes higher with physically strenuous activities such as hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures. Hydration packs come in handy to make safe drinking water available just when you need it and in the most convenient manner because you certainly must get thirsty if you plan to go out for adventure.
A typical hydration pack is made of a water reservoir made of rubber or flexible plastic designed into a back or waist pack and a hose that runs over your shoulder from which you can drink water hands-free. Quite simply, a hydration pack is functional for holding a water bladder firm in position as you engage in your activities. The best hydration pack will come with an ample opening for refilling water and a bladder that is easy to clean.
If your are looking for your first hydration pack, this video by Endurogirl will also be useful for you:
Consider the following important factors before you acquire a hydration pack:
- Fluid capacity. Most hydration packs have a bladder capacity of between 0.4 gal. (1.5 liters) and 0.8 gal. (3 liters). Depending on the activity you intend to engage in, go for the right capacity. 0.26 – 0.4 gal. (1 – 1.5 liters) capacity is ideal for less intense activities like recreational biking otherwise if you are hiking you may need up to 0.8 gal. (3 liters) of fluid, the downturn being that this could be a great deal of weight for such an activity.
- The size of the opening. A larger bladder opening makes it easy for you to clean the hydration pack or fill it with fluid. Essentially, like in the CamelBak hydration packs, if your hand can fit into the opening, although not necessarily, cleaning will be a breeze.
- Load / cargo capacity. Just like fluid capacity; check how much load your pack can accommodate depending on the activity ahead.
- Bladder design. Bladder designs are also important as some aren’t cross-compatible between packs.
- Inbuilt protection. Recent designs now include body armors such as shock absorption.
- Optional accessories for your hydration pack
- Types of Hydration Packs
- 10 Best Hydration Packs
- 1. Nathan HPL 020 Vest
- 2. Nathan VaporAir Race Vest
- 3. Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack
- 4. TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
- 5. Nathan Intensity Race Vest
- 6. Camelbak Lobo 100 oz Hydration Pack
- 7. Geigerrig The Rig 700 Hydration Pack
- 8. CamelBak 2016 Classic Hydration Pack
- 9. Evoc FR Lite Team Protector Hydration Pack
- 10. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Optional accessories for your hydration pack
Accessories are definitely important add-ons to convenience. Here are some that you can consider purchasing alongside your hydration pack:
- Cleaning kit. These are special cleaning gadgets for your pack, especially for the tubes because tubes can be such a pain to clean. CamelBak stocks some great cleaning kits.
- Neoprene sleeves. These will come in handy when you intend to go hiking during winter as these units tend to freeze. The neoprene sleeve insulates the hose to prevent it from freezing.
- Insulation caps. Just as the neoprene sleeves insulate the hose, insulation caps insulate the bite valves to prevent them from freezing.
Types of Hydration Packs
There are 6 types of hydration packs you will find in the market:
- Winter packs. As the name suggests, winter packs are suitable for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. Winter packs have the ability to protect your water from freezing thanks to the extra insulations on the drinking tube and bite valve.
- Wearable hydration packs. These can also be used in winter seasons because water is kept close to the body thus preventing freezing. They feature built-in hydration bladders which make this possible.
- Dedicated Hydration Packs. These are the smallest. This means they can only carry a small amount of water and a few extras such as a shirt, some sunscreen, and keys. They are ideal for those who don’t want a lot of baggage on their trips.
- Backpacks with built-in hydration. Quite the opposite of dedicated packs in terms of size. If for example, you are planning a long trip which will require you to spend a night or two, this would be the best hydration backpack to select as it is large enough to fit clothes, supplies, and any other tool you may need for the trip.
- Hydration daypacks. They are larger than dedicated packs but smaller than the prior mentioned. They are ideal for basic hydration although they have some space for packing a few extras.
Getting the best hydration pack for your needs isn’t always an easy task. We checked out some of the best in the market based on features and top hydration backpack reviews and here is what we compiled.
10 Best Hydration Packs
1. Nathan HPL 020 Vest
This ventilated vest presents the best hydration pack for running, however, cyclers can also benefit much from it.
- It is frameless
- It has 4 exterior pockets and the main compartment for storage
- Designed to fit 26-52 inch (66 – 132 cm) chest
- It is BPA free and ventilated to keep your body temperature cool
- 0.5 gal. (2 liters) water holding capacity
- Weight: 0.91 lb (414 g)
- Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 3 inches (33 x 17.8 x 7.6 cm)
- Very secure fitting with minimum bouncing thanks to the adjustable chest strap
- Wide yet quite light in weight
- Designed with front pockets for easy access to your vital stuff
- Chest clip holds together the hose, back panel securing system, and the chest strap quite neatly
- Bladder sealing is not easy to use or get used to
- Filling the bladder is a bit of a hassle and time consuming compared to others.
Nathan HPL 020 Vest is especially popular for its lightweight design and comfortable fit during running. It has adjustable straps for easy fit and comfortable strapping on your back, holding it in place between your shoulders. This prevents the pack from bouncing as you run. Its water capacity is an added advantage. Besides, you can also carry a water bottle for additional supply if need be.
It has rear and side pockets to carry your essentials such as mobile phones or candy bars. The pockets vary in size and can accommodate various items. The pack is also quite easy to clean and dries faster compared to other packs. This is one of the best hydration vests, ideal for both sexes and most recommended to runners.
2. Nathan VaporAir Race Vest
This pack has been labeled the lightest in weight by the award winning Vapor series. It is specifically designed for men; more so those keen on weight while running.
- 0.5 gal. (2 liters) bladder with a quick release valve
- Reflective hits for visibility
- 2 easy access front bottle pockets and front right stretch mesh pockets
- Over the shoulder load lifters keeps the gear close to the body preventing bouncing
- Body mapped with super breathable material for more comfort
- Front zip smartphone compatible pocket
- Weight: 0.58 lb (264 g)
- Dimensions: 17 x 11 x 3 inches (43.2 x 27.9 x 7.62 cm)
- Extra storage capacity in the form of several easily accessible pockets and over-the-shoulder load lifters
- Hydration pack bladder is easily accessible
- This pack is intended for men which women find a bit limiting
- Being one of the best-selling and quality built, its cost is higher therefore not affordable for the average user
Nathan Vapor Air Race Vest, Hydration Running Pack for Men is the lightest weight pack designed for men. It weighs 0.58 lb (264 g) enabling the runner to move swiftly with ease. Its water capacity at 0.5 gal. (2 liters) helps keep you hydrated all through the run while its quick release valve is great for sipping water at intervals without stopping.
For men keen on durability, weight, and storage, this is the must-have pack for them.
3. Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack
This water backpack is specially designed for bikers looking for an easy access to hydration. However, runners and hikers are also able to use this pack.
- Hydration capacity of 0.4 gal. (1.5 liters)
- Lifetime warranty
- 13-inch (33 cm) torso length
- Made of Diamond Clarus material, harnessed with lightweight mesh and Diamond mesh for the back panel
- Short pack profile
- External fill Antidote reservoir
- Highly reflective for visibility
- Big, essential pockets for wallet, keys or tools
- Weight: 0.34 lb (156 g)
- Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.5 x 3.9 in (32 x 21.5 x 10 cm)
- Lightweight and low profile, ideal for maneuvering through crowds
- Adjustable shoulder strap lets you fasten it firmly
- Probably not the best if you have larger space requirements
- Its straps are made of rather rough material and stitches which may not be comfortable on the body with excessive friction which is typical of some activities
For cyclists, Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack offers an interrupted cycling experience to its users since they do not have to stop cycling to get hydrated. It is very reflective and cyclist can be spotted from a distance. It is made of durable material and guarantees lifetime use.
Its lightweight design ensures easy cycling as it does not exert unnecessary weight on the cyclist. Its storage features allow you to carry necessary tools such as keys, wallet with you. For cycling enthusiasts, his is the most recommended hydration pack.
4. TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack
This hydration bag is designed for use by men and women, youth or elderly. Its design incorporates safety features that ensure your safety.
- Safety features such as orange whistle, reflective trim, strap clips
- Limited lifetime warranty
- High-quality design
- BPA free bladder included
- Hydration capacity: 0.5 gal. (2 liters)
- Weight: 0.9 lb (408 g)
- Dimension: 16 x 10 x 3 inches (40.6 x 25.4 x 7.6 cm)
- Meshed backing and strapping provide the breathability that’s needed to prevent sweating on the back and shoulders
- Small size and light weight good for short light expeditions
- Features a built-in whistle for emergencies and a reflective trim for visibility
- Most critical reviews highlighted difficulty in using the mouthpiece
- No front pockets for easy access to vital stuff like keys and phones
- Bladder material leaves taste in the water
The most key feature about TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack is the safety measures included in its design. The whistle and reflective trim guarantee your visibility to others. Its design features an athletic cut with cushioned and breathable back panel for comfort. Its straps are easy to adjust accordingly.
TETON Sports Trailrunner 2 Liter Hydration Backpack is highly recommended for those who need extra safety precautions.
5. Nathan Intensity Race Vest
This running hydration vest is specially designed for women, this pack features lightweight construction design and 6L total water storage for maximum hydration.
- Ideal for the feminine form
- 1.6 gal. (6 liters) water storage capacity including a 0.5 gal. (2 liters) bladder
- 3-way patented propulsion harness to control bouncing
- Highly breathable wall mesh shoulder straps
- Front water bottle pockets and a front zip compatible pocket for smartphones
- Weight: 1 lb (454 g)
- Dimensions: 13 x 11 x 2 inches (33 x 27.9 x 5 cm)
- Pretty good breathability with meshed straps and back
- Three mode harness for utmost firmness
- Numerous pockets for extra storage with zippered front pockets to secure your keys and handset
- Small front pockets
- Most critical reviews highlighted leaky bladder
Nathan Intensity Race Vest is designed for women and perfectly fits into the feminine form making it easy and comfortable to use. Its storage capacity of 1.6 gal. (6 liters) allows maximum hydration for long distances. Another advantage is its lightweight design that exerts no additional weight on it user. It has adjustable straps and 3 way patented harness to minimize bounce as you run.
For women looking for an efficient hydration pack, go for Nathan Intensity Race running hydration pack.
6. Camelbak Lobo 100 oz Hydration Pack
This water bladder backpack is designed for mountain bike activities and is ideal for full day activities that require a lot of hydration.
- Especially ideal for mountain biking
- 0.8 gal. (3 liters) external antidote reservoir with quick link connection for easy access to the drinking tube
- Gel pockets on shoulder harness
- Organizer pockets for bike and other essentials
- Slider Sternum straps and a removable waist belt for maximum stability on uneven terrains
- Helmet hooks to carry your helmet while off the bike
- Weight: 1 lb (454 g)
- Dimensions: 17.9 x 8.3 x 7.5 in (45.5 x 21 x 19 cm)
- Easy to refill with a remarkable water flow
- Large Capacity
- The first unit that has everything to write home about. No cons unless you use it inappropriately.
Mountain biking is usually carried you in uneven terrains and you require a hydration pack that carries all your essential items while keeping you hydrated. Since these activities can take up a whole day, Camelbak Lobo 100 oz Hydration Pack comes in handy providing enough storage for your items and water to keep going. It has a magnetic tube strap that keeps the drinking tube in place and accessible when you need it.
For those engaging in mountain biking activities, this pack is well suited for their hydration and storage needs.
7. Geigerrig The Rig 700 Hydration Pack
This pack allows for a little entertainment as well as it features an iPod ready compartment. It is lightweight and does not exert any drag.
- Made of durable heavy duty Ballistic Rip Stop material
- Has shoulder, chest and removable waist straps
- iPod waterproof compartment
- 0.5 gal. (1.9 liters) reservoir, reversible and dishwasher safe
- Weight: 2.65 lb (1.2 kg)
- Dimensions: 3.94 x 11.81 x 19.69 inches (10 x 30 x 50 cm)
- Easy to clean reservoir
- Good water flow making it easy to drink
- Tough material makes it hardwearing
- Some users feel it’s heavy
An outstanding feature to note on the Geigerrig The Rig 700 Hydration Pack is its quick release valves that spray water upon a small squeeze. You do not need to suck the pipe to drink water. Another added advantage is the iPod compartment that you can use to listen to your favorite music while running/hiking or mountain biking.
It also features adjustable chest, waist and shoulder straps for extra stability. Its weight and width make it possible to be used by both men and women. This pack also allows you to share your water with others. For a pack that is highly stable, durable and can serve multiple persons at once, Geigerrig The Rig 700 Hydration Pack gives you the best service.
8. CamelBak 2016 Classic Hydration Pack
This the perfect pack for both men and women in cycling adventures.
- Ideal for both sexes
- Designed for cycling activities
- 2 exterior pockets
- Padded mesh for the back panel
- Designed to fit 38 – 53 inch (96 – 135 cm) torso
- Hydration capacity of 0.7 gal. (2.5 liters)
- It is BPA/BPS/BPF free
- Weight: 0.4 lb (170 g)
- Dimensions: 15 x 7.5 x 3.5 in (38 x 19 x 10 cm)
- Remarkably firm, no bouncing around
- 0.7 gal. (2.5 liters) capacity is a plus for its small size
- Small storage pocket, a sizeable one would make the difference
CamelBak 2016 Classic Hydration Pack gives cyclists the best hydration kit as it is designed with a Crux reservoir that gives 20% more water with every sip. It also has a self-sealing bite valve and ergonomic cap that renders the pack leak proof.
It is made of a lightweight reflective material for visibility even in low lit areas. The two pockets are zipped keeping your contents safe. The back panel has a breathable air mesh for more comfort. This kit comes in handy when looking for a pack that you can use with someone else of either sex. It is highly durable and designed to last longer with proper use.
9. Evoc FR Lite Team Protector Hydration Pack
With two different sizes to choose from, this pack is highly recommended for use to those looking for a perfect fit depending on their size and height.
- Available in two sizes; S AND ML depending on body height
- GS-certified backpack protector
- Made of ballistic rip stop nylon material
- Has a waist belt with pouches for accessories
- Has a detachable helmet flap
- A non-included hydration reservoir of 0.8 gal. (3 liters)
- Weight: 1.94 lb (880 g – size M/L)
- Dimensions: 10.6 x 22 x 2.8 inches (27 cm x 56 cm x 7 cm) – Size M/L
- Quite firm, no bouncing
- Unique built-in GS certified spine protector
- Traps heat which could be uncomfortable when it’s hot
Evoc FR Lite Team Protector Hydration Pack is best for persons who are either quite tall or short as they are able to choose a pack size depending on their height. It features a backpack protector for extra safety precaution. Its detachable helmet flap allows you to hang your helmet while off your bike.
This pack does not have an included reservoir but accommodates up to 0.8 gal. (3 liters) hydration system. It is, therefore, ideal for short distances that require a bit less hydration. If you are looking for a pack to use on short activities, Evoc FR Lite Team Protector Hydration Pack comes highly recommended.
10. CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack uses the latest technology in its design. It has a magnetic tube strap that secures your tube in place. Its crux reservoir technology makes it easy to refill your pack.
- Ideal for both male and female users
- Designed for mountain biking activities
- Hydration capacity of 0.8 gal. (3 liters)
- Fits 16.9 – 20.9 inches (43 – 53 cm) torso
- 5 exterior pockets
- Removable waist strap
- Magnetic tube trap
- Crux reservoir
- Weight: 1.3 lb (590 g)
- Dimensions: 2 x 10.5 x 19 inches (5.08 x 26.67 x 48.26 cm)
- Roomy inside
- Detachable hose with a no-leak quick release valve and comes with flow control mechanism located at the mouthpiece
- No much storage space with full reservoir
- Could be heavy with full water reservoir
For mountain bikers, the crux reservoir gives 20% more water with every sip and quickly gets the cyclist hydrated. The magnetic trap holds the drinking tube in place hence no need to take your eyes off the road in search for this tube. The back panel is made with air channels to keep you cool.
This is the best hydration pack for hiking and mountain biking as it has more than enough external pockets to carry all your essentials. It is very reflective and guarantees visibility to other people. The pack is unisex and its hydration capacity and straps contribute to a more pleasant biking experience.
Outdoor adventures like biking, hiking, or running need convenient access to water and this is certainly not with a bottle packed in your shorts’ pockets. A good hydration pack, properly strapped, will let you have your water more conveniently while at rest or in motion. Simply place the hose in your mouth and draw fluid from it. Additionally, a hydration pack comes as a handy storage for your adventure accessories.
Bottom-line: find out the one that best suits your needs and you’re sure to have your fun all day long.